AMRITSAR - Known for its golden temple, the most sacred shrine of the sikhs with its holy tank called " the pool of immortality". Nearby is the Jallianwala Bagh, where during the British rule in India, General Dyer opened fire on innocent people causing a massacre. The place is now a national monument. Its walls bears the bullet marks of this tragedy. The Golden Temple or Darbar Sahib, situated in Amritsar, Punjab, is the most sacred temple for Sikhs. It is a symbol of the magnificence and strength of the Sikh people all over the world. In the evolution of the Darbar Sahib, is entwined the history and ideology of Sikhism. In its architecture are included, symbols associated with other places of worship. This is an example of the spirit of tolerance and acceptance that the Sikh philosophy propounds.
The history of the Darbar Sahib starts with Guru Amar Das, who took the first steps towards building a shrine. Around the Golden Temple, the holy city of Amritsar came into being. His successor, Guru Ram Das, came to live near this tranquil and peaceful site, and started building the pilgrimage centre around the small pool, (later to become the Sarowar) which had intially drawn Guru Amar Das. By the time of Guru Ram Das' death, the pre eminence of the Darbar Sahib among the sikh devotees was unquestionable. The Harmandir Sahib, or the sanctum sanctorium, was envisoned by Guru Arjan Dev. This was concieved by him to reflect the resoluteness, clarity and simplicity of the Sikh relegion. The Harmindir Sahib today stands as the hallowed symbol of the indestructability of the Sikh faith. He designed it to have four doors, one on each side. The Golden Temple, would thus be open to all four castes-Kshatriyas, Brahmins, Sudras & Vaisyas.
Golden Temple is a place of both stupendous beauty and sublime peacefulness. Originally a small lake in the midst of a quiet forest, the site has been a meditation retreat for wandering mendicants and sages since deep antiquity. The Buddha is known to have spent time at this place in contemplation.Two thousand years after Buddha's time, another philosopher-saint came to live and meditate by the peaceful lake. This was Guru Nanak (1469-1539), the founder of the Sikh religion. After the passing away of Guru Nanak, his disciples continued to frequent the site; over the centuries it became the primary sacred shrine of the Sikhs. The lake was enlarged and structurally contained during the leadership of the fourth Sikh Guru (Ram Dass, 1574-1581), and during the leadership of the fifth Guru (Arjan, 1581-1606), the Hari Mandir, or Temple of God was built. From the early 1600s to the mid 1700s the sixth through tenth Sikh Gurus were constantly involved in defending both their religion and their temple against Moslem armies. On numerous occasions the temple was destroyed by the Moslems, and each time was rebuilt more beautifully by the Sikhs. From 1767 onwards, the Sikhs became strong enough militarily to repulse invaders. Peace returned to the Hari Mandir.